1 Now about the questions in your letter. It is an excellent thing for a man to have no intercourse with a woman; 2 but there is so much immorality that every man had better have a wife of his own and every woman a husband of her own. 3 The husband must give the wife her conjugal dues, and the wife in the same way must give her husband his; 4 the wife cannot do as she pleases with her body ??her husband has power, and in the same way the husband cannot do as he pleases with his body ??his wife has power. 5 Do not withhold sexual intercourse from one another, unless you agree to do so for a time in order to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again. You must not let Satan tempt you through incontinence. 6 But what I have just said is by way of concession, not command. 7 I would like all men to be as I am. However, everyone is endowed by God in his own way; he has a gift for the one life or the other.
8 To the unmarried and to widows I would say this: it is an excellent thing if like me they remain as they are. 9 Still, if they cannot restrain themselves, let them marry. Better marry than be aflame with passion!
10 For married people these are my instructions (and they are the Lord's, not mine). A wife is not to separate from her husband ??11 if she has separated, she must either remain single or be reconciled to him ??and a husband must not put away his wife. 12 To other people I would say (not the Lord): ??if any brother has a wife who is not a believer, and if she consents to live with him, he must not put her away; 13 and if any wife has a husband who is not a believer, and if he consents to live with her, she must not put her husband away. 14 For the unbelieving husband is consecrated in the person of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated in the person of the Christian brother she has married; otherwise, of course, your children would be unholy instead of being consecrated to God. 15 (Should the unbelieving partner be determined to separate, however, separation let it be; in such cases the Christian brother or sister is not tied to marriage.) It is to a life of peace that God has called us. 16 O wife, how do you know you may not save your husband? O husband, how do you know you may not save your wife?
17 Only, everyone must lead the lot assigned him by the Lord; he must go on living the life in which God's call came to him. (Such is the rule I lay down for all the churches). 18 Was a man circumcised at the time he was called? Then he is not to efface the marks of it. Has any man been called when he was uncircumcised? Then he is not to get circumcised. 19 Circumcision counts for nothing, uncircumcision counts for nothing; obedience to God's commands is everything. 20 Everyone must remain in the condition of life where he was called. 21 You were a slave when you were called? Never mind. Of course, if you do find it possible to get free, you had better avail yourself of the opportunity. 22 But a slave who is called to be in the Lord is a freedman of the Lord. Just as a free man who is called is a slave of Christ 23 (for you were bought for a price; you must not turn slaves to any man). 24 Brothers, everyone must remain with God in the condition of life where he was called.
25 I have no orders from the Lord for unmarried women, but I will give you the opinion of one whom you can trust, after all the Lord's mercy to him. 26 Well, what I think is this: that, considering the imminent distress in these days, it would be an excellent plan for you to remain just as you are. 27 Are you tied to a wife? Never try to untie the knot. Are you free? Never try to get married. 28 Of course, if you are actually married, there is no sin in that; and if a maid marries, there is no sin in that. (At the same time those who marry will have outward trouble ??and I would spare you that.) 29 I mean, brothers, ??the interval has been shortened; so let those who have wives live as if they had none, 30 let mourners live as if they were not mourning, let the joyful live as if they had no joy, let buyers live as if they had no hold on their goods, 31 let those who mix in the world live as if they were not engrossed in it, for the present phase of things is passing away.
32 I want you to be free from all anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the Lord's affairs, how best to satisfy the Lord; 33 the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how best to satisfy his wife ??34 so he is torn in two directions. The unmarried woman or the maid is also anxious about the Lord's affairs, how to be consecrated, body and spirit; once married, she is anxious about worldly affairs, how best to satisfy her husband. 35 I am saying this in your own interests. Not that I want to restrict your freedom. It is only to secure decorum and concentration upon a life of devotion to the Lord.
36 At the same time, if any man considers he is not behaving properly to the maid who is his spiritual bride, if his passions are strong and if it must be so, then let him do what he wants ??let them be married; it is no sin for him. 37 But the man of firm purpose who has made up his mind, who, instead of being forced against his will, has determined to himself to keep his maid a spiritual bride ??that man will be doing the right thing. 38 Thus both are right alike in marrying and in refraining from marriage, but he who does not marry will be found to have done better.
39 A woman is bound to her husband during his lifetime; but if he dies, she is free to marry anyone she pleases ??only, it must be a Christian. 40 However, she is happier if she remains as she is; that is my opinion ??and I suppose I have the Spirit of God as well as other people!